What were the best, most intriguing, most surprising, most entertaining… books you read in 2014? I spent the year mixing it up, with books put out by indie authors & by conventional publishers, and in a wide range of genres, from detective stories and historical dramas to steampunk and all stripes of the supernatural.
Highlights of the year include:
“I Am Livia” by Phyllis T. Smith
In “I Claudius” Livia is a villainous schemer, but this time the story is told from her point-of-view and I got happily lost in her version of Imperial Rome.
“The Crime of Julian Wells” by Thomas H. Cook
It’s been a few years since I read one of Cook’s masterpieces of mystery fiction. Having met him at a mystery conference years ago, I downloaded this on an impulse and it is brilliant — depressing and frustrating, but brilliant. If you need an action packed read, skip it. But for a mystery of the mind, it can’t be beat.
“The HooDoo Detective” by Kirsten Weiss
This is just FUN! The latest in the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal detective stories, HooDoo is the best so far. I enjoyed the New Orleans setting, the quirky take on vampires and the riff on reality TV.
“The Fracking King” by James Browning
How often do you stumble on a literary cocktail containing humor, adolescent angst and fracking? Not often. This is an entertaining book with a disturbing subject as the backdrop.
“Running Before the Midnight Bell” by Jonathan Broughton
This is a contemporary police procedural/detective novel with credible characters, a vivid setting and a few unusual twists.
“Bone in the Throat” by Anthony Bourdain
One part backstage at a restaurant, two parts drugs & mobsters, with a generous pour of food porn. The mystery is set in the 80’s in and around the restaurant scene in New York and the celebrity chef/author turns out to be a really good storyteller!
“By it’s Cover” by Donna Leon
I’m a big Donna Leon fan and this time Inspector Brunetti is investigating crimes set in a rare books library. As usual, the inspector’s lunch & dinner breaks make me hungry for Italian food and long for a trip to Venice.
“Net Switch” by Denise Baer
This was a roller coaster down a rabbit hole. It’s a thinking reader’s brand of suspense.
I dipped into some classics, too. I found myself reading “The Hunting of the Snark” by Lewis Carroll out loud. It’s a hoot! When you need to cheer up, just read a few stanzas. All-in-all — even with a record number of dreadful books I stopped reading a few chapters in — 2014 was a good year for books!